SANDUSKY -– U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, joined rail union workers and officials at the site of the October 2022 Norfolk Southern derailment to tour the area and call for swift passage of his bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023. Brown’s visit comes a day after he led U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-OH, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH-9, to demand that Norfolk Southern immediately pay the costs to repair the damage the railroad caused to the City of Sandusky following the October train derailment that spilled paraffin wax onto the roadway and surrounding area – including damaging infrastructure for the stormwater sewer system.
“I’m working with members of both parties to make sure Norfolk Southern pays for the damage it’s caused in Sandusky, and to take on their lobbyists to make trains safer so this doesn’t happen again,” said Brown.
Brown led a bipartisan group of colleagues, including Vance to introduce his Railway Safety Act of 2023 that will improve rail safety protocols, finally standing up to railroad company lobbyists so no other community has to deal with what East Palestine and others in Ohio, including residents of Springfield, Sandusky and Steubenville, have dealt with.
“I thank Senator Brown for his leadership on the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023. Nearly six months ago, the derailment here in Sandusky shut down Columbus Avenue, one of our main streets into town. We are grateful no one was killed or injured, but the months-long closure has negatively impacted our residents and local businesses. I hope that this legislation will ensure our railways are made safer and that these types of disruptive derailments will become more of a rarity,” said Dick Brady, president of the Sandusky City Commission.
Ohio news outlets have praised Brown’s bipartisan plan as “wise,” “commonsense” reforms that “could help keep people across the country safer.” The legislation comes after Brown worked with Vance and others to raise concerns to the NTSB about lax rail safety rules that allowed the crash to happen.
Rail unions including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) support the legislation and have joined Brown to urge its passage at multiple locations around the state.
“We need to see accountability in the rail industry – Ohio residents in places like Sandusky shouldn’t have to wait six months or more to have their communities reopened when the railroads are up and running within hours.” said John Esterly, Ohio State Legislative Board chairman, BLET.
“If legislators want to preach safety and they believe in protecting communities, then they need to support this bipartisan bill” said Clyde Whitaker, state legislative director of the Transportation Division of the Ohio State Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD).